The good, the bad and the candidatesPublished 12:02am Sunday, April 15, 2012
Have you ever noticed that the more options we have, the less satisfied we generally are?
Take television programming for example. Many people have access to 100 or more channels, yet we often complain, “Nothing is on.”
The same goes for all kinds of products and services.
More choice means we are increasingly more dissatisfied. An abundance of choices can also lead to a strange phenomenon — choice paralysis.
Our fear of making the “wrong” choice leads us to worry about the disastrous consequences possible.
That phenomenon is at play in the Natchez mayor’s race. Many residents — the ones who don’t have specific ties to a candidate — just aren’t sure for whom to cast their vote.
It’s ironic that with five candidates in the ring, lots of residents still have angst over the best choice — or more precisely, the choice least likely to screw something up.
Voters suggest they aren’t enthused about any specific candidate so they have to ask themselves: Which candidate could do the least harm to the city?
Let’s take a look at a few voter concerns I keep hearing about the candidates (in alphabetical order).
Republican candidate Bob Bouie is the least known among the candidates on the ballot. He’s the wildcard since few people know what his plans are or whether or not he’s a serious candidate.
No one seems to know what he’s capable of — good or bad.
Former Natchez Mayor Larry L. “Butch” Brown is clearly a man who can get things done. His track record speaks to a long line of public accomplishments. In the process, though, his dictatorial leadership style can tend to steamroll potential obstacles and crush the toes of people and groups who get in the way.
In his desire to get things done quickly, could Brown damage important things such as the growing cooperation between city and county government or muddle community support for Natchez Inc.?
It’s possible. Voters must weigh if the prospect of getting more things done is worth such risks.
Independent challenger Bill Furlow touts his candidacy as one of change from the old ways of doing business with a refreshing cooperative leadership style. The challenge for Furlow may be just the opposite of Brown’s.
While some people fear Brown pushes too hard, too fast, with little local public track record, voters worry that Furlow may be too nice, too measured to succeed in a political leadership role and drive the city to success.
Looking at incumbent Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton, voters can see the present as an indication of the future.
While nothing has gone terribly wrong under Middleton’s watch, the feeling on the street is, not much has been accomplished, either.
Beyond a few forced expense reductions and the much-beleaguered second casino development, few if any new, innovative projects appear to be in the hopper. That lack of execution is a big hurdle for many voters.
Former Natchez Mayor Phillip West and Brown share some common traits, but certainly have different styles.
Both men do not take “no” for an answer, which can be a good trait, but both tend to push the limits, too. Voters worry that West will take matters into his own hands too often — like tearing down buildings without proper permission as he did last time around, working deals behind closed doors and generally doing what he wants, when he wants.
Like all of us, each of the five candidates has good traits and bad traits.
While some voters may long for a sixth option, beyond the option of a last-minute write-in campaign, they have to choose one of the five — warts and all.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or email@example.com.